Rare Book Highlights: Benjamin Franklin and electricity

Franklin, Benjamin. Experiments and observations on electricity, made at Philadelphia in America. London: Printed for F. Newbery, 1774. Call number: QC516 F854e5

Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Vol. 47, London: Royal Society of London, 1751-52. Call number: Q41 R812p

We’ve all heard the story of Benjamin Franklin discovering electricity by tying a key to a kite and flying it during a thunderstorm. But have you ever thought about how that story was documented?

Diagrams of leyden jars, lightnight rods, and various electrical experiments

The title page and frontispiece of Benjamin Franklin’s “Experiments and Observations on Electricity.”

As usual,the truth of the matter is a little more complicated than what we learned as children. Mythbusters performed an experiment to show that Ben would have been killed by the electric shock if he had actually touched the key. Other scholars note, however, that the charge in the key came from the surrounding atmosphere, and not from a lightning strike, making the charge much lower in intensity. Nor did Franklin exactly discover electricity. At the time, electricity was known and studied, but only in its static form (Carter 119). Franklin did prove through his experiments that lightning is a form of electricity, and he first proposed the use of lightning rods on buildings, masts of ships, or other tall structures, to attract the lightning away from the building and conduct the electric shock down into the ground.

Ben Franklin conducted a number of electrical experiments throughout the 18th century, along with a community of scientists throughout Europe. He shared the results of his experiments by letter, and he enjoyed a particular correspondence with Peter Collinson, a British scientist and Fellow of the Royal Society of London.  In his letters to Collinson, he described his experiments with Leyden jars, charged clouds, and lightning rods. Many of these letters were read at meetings of the Royal Society, where the experiments were discussed. Several other men of science performed their own experiments, and shared the results of these experiments through papers read at Royal Society meetings and through correspondence to Franklin and others.

Collinson gathered Franklin’s letters together and published them in London in 1751 under the title Experiments and Observations on Electricity, Made at Philadelphia in America. Five editions were printed by 1769, and editions in French, German, and Italian, were published not long after. Franklin’s work in electricity established his international reputation as a scientist, and this publication is considered to be “the most important scientific book of eighteenth-century America” (Carter 119).

Iowa State University library holds a copy published in 1774, the fifth edition by the printer F. Newbery of London. A description of the famous kite experiment can be found in Letter XI, from Oct. 19, 1752, shown below.

ISU also holds the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, where many of the letters from Franklin to Collinson and others are published. A different letter to Collinson describing the kite experiment is published in the Transactions. It was dated from Philadelphia on October 1, 1752, and it was read two-and-a-half months later, on Dec. 21, 1752.

Others were studying electricity at the same time. The same volume of Philosophical Transactions includes “An Account of the Effects of Lightning at Southmolton in Devonshire, by Joseph Palmer, Esquire,” which was read to the Society on January 9, 1752, and “An Account of the Phaenomena of Electricity in vacuo, with Some Observations thereupon, by Mr. Wm. Watson, F.R.S.,” read February 20, 1752.

Even if Ben Franklin did not “discover electricity,” he certainly made important contributions to the general understanding of the nature of electricity and lightning.

Work Cited

Carter, John, and Percy H. Muir. Printing and the Mind of Man. Karl Pressler, 1983.


A Winter’s Day on Campus #TBT

Old Main in the snow, 1899. University Photographs, RS 4/8/J, Box 348

Old Main in the snow, 1899. University Photographs, RS 4/8/J, Box 348

Winter is officially here! Whether you love it or hate it, you have to admit that the snow can be quite beautiful. This photo provides just one example. Behind the snow-frosted trees are two buildings – the English Office Building (home of the President’s Office) on the left and Old Main on the right. The English Office Building was located roughly where Carver Hall now stands.

If you want to see a great view of wintry campus while staying out of the elements, stop by our reading room! While you’re here, you can take a look materials from any of our great collections. Stay warm out there!

 

 


This month’s collaborative post highlights items from our Artifact Collection related to food. After all, one of the key components of this holiday season is celebrating with food. We hope you enjoy these collection highlights from our Artifact Collection.

Teacup and Saucer (Artifact 2001-R160.001)

Top view of teacup and saucer, white embellished around edges with purple, orange and blue flowers with green stems and leaves.

Top view of teacup and saucer (Artifact 2001-R160.001)

Amy Bishop, Rare Books and Manuscripts Archivist

I was drawn to this teacup and saucer because my mom and grandma both collected tea cups. I used to love examining the patterns of all the different teacups in my mom’s china cabinet when I was growing up and feeling the thinness of the fine bone china they were made of. This particular teacup and saucer in our artifact collection belonged to the mother of H. Summerfield Day, University Architect (1966-1975) and Planning Coordinator (1975-1980). It was collected and donated to the archives by a former library employee in the Cataloging Department, Dennis Wendell.

Wooden cheese box (Artifact 1999-013.001)

Wooden cheese box 9.25 inches wide, text on box "2 Pounds net weight, Iowa State College, pasteurized process cheese, Manufactured by Dairy Industry dept., Iowa State College, Ames, Iowa."

Wooden cheese box (Artifact 1999-013.001)

Chris Anderson, Descriptive Records Project Archivist

This wooden cheese box is interesting because it’s much sturdier than I would expect. It’s only 9.25” wide, so card stock would have sufficed. I think it would make a cool pencil box. Pasteurized process cheese is not my favorite kind, but I have such high regard for cheese that I can’t help liking the box. “Process cheese” notwithstanding, it was an ISC product so it was probably of exceptional quality. I’m inspired to make grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup this weekend.

Wax Apples (Artifact 2008-153.001)

Bowl filled with various wax apples (yellow,pink, red)

Artifact 2008-153

Laura Sullivan, Collections Archivist

I have chosen the bowl of wax apples, originally shown at the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, as this month’s food-related artifact.  I had heard of its existence here, but had never had the opportunity to see these first-hand until working on an artifact housing project earlier this year.  I was amazed at how shiny and fresh these 140-year-old wax apples looked, and at the same time being terrified of causing damage to these amazing artifacts!  Colonel G. B. Bracket, who created the wax apples for the Iowa State Horticultural Society’s exhibit, received a gold medal for the wax Iowa apples. The apples represent the 300 varieties of apples grown in Iowa at the time.

Iowa State milk carton (from Accession 2014-312)

Iowa State Skim Milk Carton, has "Iowa State" and picture of Food Sciences building originally Dairy Industry building. Colors on carton are yellow, black and white. It's a half-gallon carton.

This milk carton came in with accession 2014-312. It has not yet been assigned an artifact number in our artifact database. Note the illustration of the Food Sciences Building, originally known as the Dairy Industry Building, on the front of the carton.

Brad Kuennen, University Archivist

In a slight departure from the theme of food for this week’s blog, I have selected this Iowa State milk carton as it represents a long history of producing dairy products at Iowa State. This milk carton would have been filled with milk during the 1960s, but the dairy program at Iowa State began much earlier than that. Iowa State started operating a creamery in the 1880s to provide a place to store and process milk and dairy products for the benefit of the students and staff of Iowa State. Any milk left over was processed into butter and sold to the neighborhood surrounding the school. Of course, in those days milk was not delivered in attractive paper cartons like this! In 2007 Iowa State renewed its support of the dairy industry in Iowa when it opened a new dairy farm south of campus. Although the days of Iowa State selling its own milk are long gone, you can still buy homemade ice cream from students in the Dairy Science Club as they carry on the tradition of preparing dairy products on the Iowa State campus.

Kenyan Fat Pot, 1944 (Artifact 2010-009.005)

Whitney Olthoff, Project Archivist

One of the most fascinating food-related artifacts we have is a fat pot from Kenya. According to the catalog record, this pot was “used for collecting the fat from meat as a result of cooking or for cosmetic purposes by the natives of the Turkana-Tribe from Northern Kenya.” This doesn’t sound all that different from what we do in America today, in which we collect the drippings from meat to make gravy or broth. The pot is made of wood, twine, and leather, with a leather cap. I suppose this item intrigues me largely because we don’t have a lot of artifacts from around the world, and I don’t know of any other African artifacts in our collections. It’s associated with the Shirley Held Papers (RS 26/2/53). Held was a faculty member of what is now the College of Design.

ISU Beer Can (Artifact 2012-207.002)

Rachel Seale, Outreach Archivist

I was browsing items in our internal artifact database and was tickled to see this beer can. Believe it or not, this is just one can of at least three other beer cans I could have selected that we have in our collection. I picked this can because it includes an image of Cy. I feel like I can justify selecting beer as a food-related artifact because, to some, it is food. All kidding aside, beer can be enjoyed with food just like wine and it even enhances some food. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that pretzels or nuts are often served with beer. Below is the description of the beer can from the catalog:

The can is a gold color, with red and black lettering. There is an image of Cy holding a mug of beer in one hand, and a football in the other. On the can itself reads, in red lettering, “CYCLONE BEER.” Underneath the slogan, there is black lettering that reads, “Not associated with Iowa State University.” There is a makers mark that describes the nature of where the beer was brewed and canned. On the top of the can reads: “Iowa Refund, 5 c.” There is still liquid inside of the can.

This beer can, with an assortment of other materials, came to the archives from the Iowa State University Alumni Association.

Chocolate Set (from Accession 2010-009)

Pot and two teacups and saucers, for drinking chocolate. Colors are white embellished with pink and yellow roses.

Chocolate set (from Accession 2010-009)

Becky Jordan, Reference Specialist

This image is of a chocolate pot and two cups which carries the mark of Wheelock China, a large Midwestern importing firm which flourished from 1855 until the early 1920s.  Wheelock is best known for their souvenir china, depicting local scenes and buildings and marketed to tourists.  Most of their products were imported from Germany.  These items are marked with the Wheelock Imperial Eagle stamp, which was used on china the company imported from Austria.

Black-and-white photograph of woman, in her 30s or 40s, short brunette hair and glasses, sitting at a loom.

Photograph of Shirley Held ca. 1950s (University Photographs RS 26/2/A)

The chocolate pot belonged to Shirley Held, a member of Iowa State’s Art and Design faculty for more than thirty years.  She received a B.S. in Home Economics Education from Iowa State in 1945.  Following graduation, she taught home economics in several towns in northwest Iowa. She returned to graduate school at Iowa State, earning the M.S. in Home Economics-Applied Art in 1951.  After a year teaching at Utah State College, she returned to Iowa State as a member of the Applied Art faculty, teaching design, lettering, weaving, and wood and metal crafts.   Weaving was her true calling, and she was the author of Weaving:  Handbook of the Fiber Crafts, which was published in 1973, with a second edition in 1978.  Her pieces were exhibited both in Iowa and nationally, and she promoted the art of weaving through workshops and lectures. She received a faculty citation in 1979 in recognition of her long and outstanding service to the University.  Active locally as a member of the Ames Choral Society and the Collegiate United Methodist Church Chancel Choir, she also participated in community theater, both acting and designing costumes for a number of productions.  She retired from Iowa State in 1990, and passed away in 2014.

Artifacts in the Archives – Celebrating food!


At the Library #TBT

It’s Finals Week, and the library has been an especially busy place. Today, students can be found looking up resources on their (or the library’s) computers, but 50 years ago their searches looked more like this:

rs-25-3-f_library_2047-03-01

Students using the card catalog to find resources, circa 1951. University Photographs, RS 25/3/F, Box 2046

Of course, not everything has changed since then (although the card catalog is certainly a relic of the past). Students still spend a great deal of time studying in the library, and they are still spotted hunched over a table with a book, notebook, and pen. True, many of them have laptops or tablets with them as well, but the spirit is the same.

For those who still have exams, papers, and/or projects to complete, best of luck! For those who are done, congrats on a semester finished!


Iowa State Alum, Landscape Architect, Wilderness Idea Pioneer: Arthur Carhart

As the holiday season is here, and the cold weather has descended upon us in Iowa and the rest of the Midwest, many are spending more time indoors with family and friends. The end of the year and the beginning of the next is when we frequently receive an upturn in questions regarding alumni, many likely arising during conversations during a winter get-together or as people think about family at this time of year. What resources do we have in the university archives to look into Iowa State alumni?

21-7-1_carhart

Arthur  Carhart’s folder in our alumni files, RS 21/7/1.

I’ll use a 1916 graduate, Arthur Carhart, as an example to walk readers through the possibilities. Why did I choose Arthur Carhart?  This past year, I visited the Gila Wilderness Area in New Mexico, which was established in large part due to the efforts of Aldo Leopold, a native Iowan (and, as a side note, we hold the papers of his brother, Frederick Leopold) – and Leopold’s ideas were probably influenced by Carhart, since they conversed on the wilderness idea at least once.  I am repeatedly reminded that even as a state which has significantly changed its landscape, Iowa has had many people who are passionate about conservation and preserving the land…as a perusal of this subject guide for our collections will reveal.

One such person I recently learned about was, as you all know by now, Arthur Hawthorne Carhart. One hundred years ago this year (1916), Carhart graduated with Iowa State’s first degree in landscape gardening (later landscape architecture), and became the first landscape architect for the National Forest Service. Carhart’s vision for wilderness preservation had a lasting impact here in this country. One of his first projects was to survey Trappers Lake in Colorado’s White Pine National Forest for development. After his visit, he recommended instead that the area be designated as a wilderness. Trappers Lake became the National Forest’s first wilderness preservation area. Before leaving the Forest Service to work in private practice, Carhart recommended that an area of northern Minnesota be designated as a wilderness area, and this is now the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Carhart later became a successful writer, drawing upon his earlier experiences. The Special Collections Department at the University of Iowa holds the Papers of Arthur Carhart, which contain his literary manuscripts.

What was Carhart’s life like here at Iowa State while a student, and what do we have which documents his accomplishments after graduation?  As our genealogy subject guide reveals, we have a variety of resources with which to begin.

bomb16_dec

In addition to supplying information about students at the time, the Bomb also provides a window into what life was like at that time. Above is a passage about a December Christmas Carnival which took place on campus (from 1916 Bomb).

The Bomb, the student yearbook, can often be a rich source of information and a great place to begin – especially if the alum was involved in a variety of student organizations, as Carhart was.  During his senior year alone, the 1916 Bomb reveals that he was a member of Acacia, band, glee club, horticulture department club, and the Iowa State College Chapter of the Cosmopolitan Club (an international student group; more on the Iowa State chapter can be found in this earlier blog post).

bombl17_carhart

Carhart’s page from the section on seniors from the 1916 Bomb.

In addition to physical copies here in the department and the general collection, the Bomb is now available online through Digital Collections.

We also have his bachelors thesis (call number: Cob 1916 Carhart) entitled “Landscape Materials for Iowa.”  As Carhart states in his forward, he has compiled a listing of plants hardy enough to use in the middle west state of Iowa.  No single book, or even group of books, existed at that time which did so for midwest states.  This groundbreaking work of an Iowa State senior is a great view into Carhart’s work as a budding landscape architect, in addition to preserving an annotated list of plants available for such work in the early part of the 20th century. (Please note: we are in the process of cataloging our bachelors theses. His thesis will soon be discoverable through the library’s search system…just not yet!)

thesis

Title page from Carhart’s bachelors thesis (call #: Cob 1916 Carhart)

There are multiple other resources one could go to to find other windows into Carhart’s life here at Iowa State – but I will leave those up to you to find, if you’re so inclined. The student directories would reveal where he lived while here, as well as his hometown and major.  This would also be a good place to start if you had a basic idea for when someone attended, but not the exact date.  The records for the student groups he was involved with here on campus may have photographs, scrapbooks, programs, and other materials documenting what he may have done within those organizations.

His file in our alumni files (RS 21/7/1) reveals what he accomplished after graduating from Iowa State – and this included quite a lot, far more than I knew about him before examining the file! In addition to his accomplishments mentioned above, a 1969 letter to President Parks (from a nomination packet for Iowa State’s “Distinguished Achievement Citation”) says that he “conceived and carried through to establishment” the Conservation Library Center (now the Conservation Collection, Denver Public Library), and saved Dinosaur National Monument from a proposed dam. Carhart’s alumni file is full of additional information, including news clippings, resumes, articles, correspondence, updates to the alumni association, among others.

Incidentally, Dinosaur National Monument has at least two Iowa State connections.  In addition to Carhart’s work, the large array of fossils which eventually became Dinosaur National Monument was discovered by another Iowa State alum, Earl Douglass. I’ll leave it to the curious among you to find out what we may have on Douglass! I hope this post has given everyone a better idea about the resources we have in the University Archives related to former students.

 


#TBT – Traditions from Times Past

Iowa State University has a ton of traditions. New traditions get developed and old ones fade away. Today’s post is about White Breakfasts, a now defunct tradition. Please note, the caption for the image below states that the White Breakfast was first observed in Lyon Hall in 1915. Our Reference Specialist, Becky notes below that this ceremony was first observed in 1918. The 1918 observance is documented in Julian C. Schilletter‘s The First 100 Years of Residential Housing at Iowa State University Dr. Schilletter held many positions at Iowa State and was the Director of Residence Halls from 1946-1967.

From the Reference Files of Becky Jordan, Reference Specialist

WHITE BREAKFASTS

Almost a dozen young women wearing white dresses, holding candles, standing on stairs of their dorm, singing. The caption below this image reads: "On the last Sunday before examination in December the White Breakfast ceremony is observed in women's residence halls. Each advisor lights the candles of her advisees, and beginning on the top floor, the residents of the hall come caroling and carrying candles to breakfast. Devotions are observed afterwards. Traditionally the women wear white dresses or white blouses. First observed in Lyon Hall in 1915, the custom is now universal in the women's residence group."

From “News of Iowa” December 1955 issue (LH1. N39 Archives).

White Breakfasts were observed in the women’s residence halls from 1918 through the early 1960s.  Originated by a Lyon Hall housemother, they were held the last Sunday before the holiday break in December.  The residents dressed in white and carried lighted candles.  A caroling procession started on the top floor of each dormitory and proceeded to the dining rooms, where a special breakfast menu was served.


Jack Trice and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.

This week, we are pleased to feature a guest post by Charles Stewart, Jr., Ph.D. (B.S. 2000). Stewart is an Associate Scientist for the Office of Biotechnology and Manager of the Macromolecular X-ray Crystallography Facility at Iowa State University. He is a Spring 2003 initiate of Iota Iota Lambda (Ithaca, NY Alumni Chapter), Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.

Earlier this year, while browsing social media I stumbled upon a photo of Jack Trice with his fraternity brothers of Alpha Phi Alpha. I was drawn to this photo because like Trice, I am a member of Alpha Phi Alpha and attended ISU (B.S, 2000). Many in the Cyclone family are aware of Jack Trice’s fatal football game. However, Trice’s life on campus appears lesser known.

Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. is the first intercollegiate Greek-lettered fraternity founded by African-Americans. The fraternity has been interracial since 1945. Alpha Nu was chartered on Thanksgiving Day in 1922 and initially served as the undergraduate chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha for college men from Iowa State University and Drake University.

Alpha Nu Chapter (Des Moines, IA) of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. featured in The Sphinx , June 1923. The Sphinx is the official magazine of Alpha Phi Alpha. From left to right: Top row: Harold L. Tutt, J. R. Otis, David Hilliard, aGeorge King. Middle row: A. Potts, F. D. Patterson, J. L. Lockett, and James W. Fraser. Bottom row: McDonald Cain, John G. Trice, Chas. P. Howard, Rufus B. Atwood, and A. C. Alridge,

Alpha Nu Chapter (Des Moines, IA) of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. featured in The Sphinx , June 1923 (Vol. 9, No. 3, pg. 17). The Sphinx is the official magazine of Alpha Phi Alpha. From left to right: Top row: Harold L. Tutt, J. R. Otis, David Hilliard, George King. Middle row: A. Potts, F. D. Patterson, J. L. Lockett, and James W. Fraser. Bottom row: McDonald Cain, John G. Trice, Chas. P. Howard, Rufus B. Atwood, and A. C. Alridge,

As I browsed back issues of the Sphinx magazine, the official magazine of Alpha Phi Alpha, I was pleasantly surprised to find a few references to Jack Trice. The photo mentioned above comes from the June 1923 issue (Vol. 9, No. 3, Page 17) and is accompanied by a short article describing activities of the recently formed Alpha Nu chapter. The chapter was preparing to give educational talks to congregations of several black churches, presumably in the Des Moines area. These talks were part of a national service program of Alpha Phi Alpha called “Go-to-High-School, Go-to-College” which stressed the importance of a college education. This program continues to this day.

A significant portion of this 1923 article was dedicated to Jack Trice. The author writes:

Among the new brothers that have filled the ranks of Alpha Nu is brother John Trice, who is destined to reach great heights in the athletic world. Winning his numerals in football last fall, did not satisfy Brother Trice. This spring, his work on the “Prep” track squad was a revelation to the most keen fans of that sport. He has frequently thrown the discuss [sic] one hundred and thirty-five feet and passing the forty foot mark with the shot, seems to be an easy matter with him. Trice has not only shown ability on the track and gridiron, but his aquatic habits have obtained for him membership to the Iowa State College Life Saving Corps.

The June 1924 issue of the Sphinx (Vol. 10, No. 3, Page 17) also notes that the 1923 football team erected a bronze reproduction of Trice’s famous “Last Letter” in the men’s gymnasium (State Gym at ISU).

21-7-trice-1923_1

Photograph of Jack Trice, 1923. (University Photographs, 21-7-trice-1923)

Since his untimely death, members of Alpha Phi Alpha have been active in keeping his memory alive. Several members were active in the effort to rename the football stadium after Trice. In particular, the late Dr. George Jackson, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs, encouraged students and alumni to write to University and Board of Reagents in support of renaming the stadium.

Jack Trice embodied the aims of Alpha Phi Alpha- manly deeds, scholarship and love for all mankind. Trice’s life and legacy continues to inspire fraternity members today. Chandler Wilkins, senior in Community and Regional Planning and Chapter President of Omicron Pi (the current chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha for undergraduate men at ISU and Drake) comments, “I share Trice’s sentiments that he wrote about in his ‘Last Letter’. I knew I would face obstacles but quitting was not an option. Trice’s story gives me strength to persevere because I know my role here serves a higher purpose.” Kenyatta Shamburger, Assistant Dean of Students/Director of Multicultural Student Affairs and advisor to Omicron Pi, describes Trice as a trailblazer whose story we can all learn from. Shamburger states “I believe that students must channel positive energy in the pursuit of their academic goals while also remaining socially and politically conscious and aware.”

What about the other men from that 1923 photo? A.C. Aldridge, Rufus Atwood, J.R. Otis, Frederick Patterson, John Lockett are all alumni of ISU. Atwood, Otis and Patterson went on to become the presidents of Kentucky State College (now Kentucky State University), Alcorn State University and Tuskegee University, respectively. John Lockett became the Director of the Agricultural Division and Professor of Agronomy at Virginia State University. Sitting to the right of Trice is Charles Preston Howard. Howard graduated from Drake Law School, co-founded the National Bar Association and went on to have a significant career in civil rights, journalism and politics. More work is needed to uncover the stories of the other men in the photo but through his fraternity brothers Trice appears to have found men whose ambition, character and temperament matched his own.

A famous poem of Alpha men concludes by saying that Alpha Phi Alpha is the “…college of friendship; the university of brotherly love; the school for the better making of men.” I am sure that Trice had a bit of fun with his fraternity brothers while also working with them to address political and social problems on campus and in American society. Trice’s ability to have a fun yet meaningful campus life is a standard we should set for all students.


Sneak Peek! Exhibit Preparation

On Monday and Wednesday afternoon this week, HIS 481X was busy in 405 Parks working on the layouts for their exhibit cases. Staff from the Conservation Lab created mounts and reproduced original materials, selected for the exhibit, so that students could play around with the layout design for the exhibit cases.

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The exhibit opens on January 18. Stay tuned for more updates!

 

Drop by and see our current exhibits! We’re open Monday-Friday from 9-5.


Artifacts in the Archives – Thankful for What We’ve Got!

Today’s blog post is another collaborative post about different artifacts and collections we are happy to have here at Special Collections & University Archives at Iowa State University. Usually we reserve these posts for artifacts, but there are some collections from University Archives we are very grateful for, so they are also included. If you’re interested in reviewing any of the materials below, drop by, we’re open Monday-Friday from 9-5. This week we’re closed, though, on Thursday & Friday. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Artifacts

29-inch Hard drive

Accession no. is 2009-R0001 hard drive removed from the university’s Hitachi Data System main frame computer before it was discarded. This hard disc contains the library’s NOTIS database [online public access catalog] from 1990-1998.

Accession no. is 2009-R0001 29″ wide hard drive removed from the University’s Hitachi Data System main frame computer before it was discarded. This hard disc contains the library’s NOTIS database [online public access catalog] from 1990-1998.

From Chris Anderson, Descriptive Records Project Archivist

According to the note it’s stored with, this thing is a “hard drive removed from the university’s Hitachi Data System main frame computer before it was discarded. This hard disc contains the library’s NOTIS database [online public access catalog] from 1990-1998.”

This hard drive represents important aspects of the work of the information professionals who came before us. As a cataloger for ISU Special Collections and University Archives, I am grateful for their efforts. I am reminded that it’s important to do a good job, whether or not anyone notices in the short term. In my line of work, the insights and diligence of people who have retired or passed away are inescapable. It’s almost like those people are still here, shaping what I can accomplish before I “pass the baton.”

When libraries first started using computers, the staff transcribed bibliographic information from card catalogs. Many millions of cards were reborn as electronic records. Some of those electronic records ended up on the hard drive pictured above, before being transferred to another system. In other words, the bibliographic information you see today may be new, or it may have had a long history. What if a now-discarded paper card contained information adapted from an old bibliography, or a bookseller’s catalog? That’s not terribly likely or consequential, you might say. But in bringing it up, I’ve opened a jumbo can of worms, because while we have fancy technology, our conceptual tools for arranging and describing resources remain rooted in the past. I see form and content, evolving in tandem, before we can understand the implications. I see old wine in new bottles, and vice versa … and then I begin to think I should get back to my more mundane work.

Political Buttons

Political button "Full Suffrage For Women" (Artifact 2002-R001.006)

Political button “Full suffrage for women” (Artifact 2002-R001.006)

From Whitney Olthoff, Project Archivist

The artifact I’m most thankful for is a women’s suffrage pin which says “Full Suffrage for Women” (2002-R001.006). It’s not so much the pin itself I’m thankful for, but what it represents. Thanks to the women who marched and wore pins like this one, I am able to vote today. Thanks to them, millions of people who before were not allowed to, are able to make their voices heard. This and several other suffragette artifacts came from Carrie Chapman Catt, women’s rights activist, suffragette, and Iowa State alumna.

 

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From Rachel Seale, Outreach Archivist

I am most thankful for the buttons in support of equal rights for women from the 1970s.  I discovered them while familiarizing myself with our PastPerfect database. There are a variety of slogans included on the buttons. My favorite is “Women are not chicks.” Though women were nationally granted the right to vote in 1920 the Equal Rights Amendment never passed. I am very grateful for all of the work done for women’s rights in the U.S.

 

From Amy Bishop, Rare Books and Manuscripts Archivist

I’m thankful for the Women’s Rights Buttons from the 1970s in Artifact 2001-R002 (pictured earlier as Rachel’s picks) and Artifact 2001-R003 (pictured directly above). These are associated with our University Archives record series for political demonstrations, RS 0/12. I’m thankful for all the women (and men) that have demonstrated and fought for women’s rights over the last one hundred and fifty years or so. Although there are still issues to fight for until we reach equality, I’m grateful for all that the generations before me have done to make the gains that we have.

 

The manhole cover that (almost) got away

Top view of manhole cover, text on cover "Mechanical Engineering Department, Ames, Iowa"

Top view of manhole cover, text on cover “Mechanical Engineering Department, Ames, Iowa” (Artifact Collection unaccessioned)

From Brad Kuennen, University Archivist

The artifact I am most thankful for is one that I didn’t know we had until just recently. Several years ago the archives was offered a manhole cover. Now, this wasn’t just any manhole cover—it was one with a large “ISC” logo on it, the “ISC” standing for Iowa State College. I wasn’t able to find historical information on them, but it seems the manhole covers were created on campus by the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Walking around campus one can find several of them still in use. We were very intrigued by the manhole cover, but we ultimately turned it down because it was large and heavy (by our standards) and would be difficult to display. Honestly, it was a decision that I regretted afterwards. This past summer a colleague of mine was looking through a shelf of artifacts that we had yet to catalog. (I would like to point out that we have only a few of these left.) Covered in the back, behind several other items, was an “ISC” manhole cover! I was rather surprised when she told me about it. At some point in the future this manhole cover will be requested by curious researchers or placed on temporary display—likely presenting several interesting challenges for us. That is a concern for another time, though. Today, I am just thankful to the archivist who took it in so that I can now say that yes, we do indeed have an “ISC” manhole cover in our collection!

 

Diploma Cover, ca. 1960-1969 (Artifact 2015-R034)

Iowa State University Diploma cover (Artifact 2015-R034)

Iowa State University Diploma cover (Artifact 2015-R034)

Petrina Jackson, MA ’94 English, Department Head

I choose the Iowa State University diploma cover because of what it represents: a good, solid education.

Growing up, my parents constantly preached the value of a good education and the importance of earning a college degree. My parents were raised in the American South during the Jim Crow era, and they believed deeply in education as the “great equalizer.” Since they did not get an opportunity to earn college degree themselves, they planted that goal in my brother and me. It was never a choice of if we would go to college; it was always a matter of when we went to college.

Going to college and encountering many new and different ideas and people expanded my world and challenged my assumptions in ways I didn’t anticipate. Most importantly, getting a degree has afforded me career opportunities that I would not have had without it. For this, I am forever grateful.

 

University Archives

Louis H. Pammel Papers

Louis Pammel in the field, 1903 (University Photographs)

Louis Pammel in the field, 1903 (University Photographs)

From Becky Jordan, Reference Specialist

The collection I am most thankful for is the Louis H. Pammel Papers (RS 13/5/13).  Pammel was involved in so many things, and his papers are a reflection of his broad interests.  His correspondence files are a “who’s who” of prominent botanists and educators.  As a member of the College History Committee, he interviewed early staff members, and was able to document the earliest days of the college from those with first-hand knowledge.  He was active in the creation of Iowa’s state park law and was the first President of the Iowa State Board of Conservation, serving from 1918 to 1927.  He worked tirelessly for the field of botany, for Iowa State, and the community.  His students were of primary concern to him, particularly foreign students.  He helped form the local chapter of the Cosmopolitan Club, and also began a Science Club and established Botanical Seminars for senior students in Botany.  A devoted family man—he and Augusta Emmel Pammel had six children—he was also a mainstay at the Episcopal Church, St. John’s by the Campus.  No matter what I am looking for when I work with his papers, I always learn something new.

 

Alumni Files, RS 21/7/1

Arthur Carhart's file, he graduated from Iowa State in 1916. File folder open and sitting in front of document box.

Arthur Carhart’s file, he graduated from Iowa State in 1916.

From Laura Sullivan, Collections Archivist

I am reminded again and again how thankful I am for our collection of alumni files, RS 21/7/1.  These are files on a variety of Iowa State’s alumni for which we do not hold individual collections (for these, see the listing under RS 21/7 http://archives.lib.iastate.edu/collections/university-archives/by-department/rs-21-alumni-affairs).  The alumni files were originally maintained by the Alumni Association before they were transferred to the university archives in the early 1970s.  Throughout the years since then, when we find information about Iowa State’s graduates, we will add this material to their file – or create a new file if one does not already exist.  The files contain a whole variety of documents including news clippings, articles, letters, and photographs.  One of my favorite records in these files are from the original files of the Alumni Association – questionnaires which were sent to alumni to update the association on our alum’s activities and pursuits.  Pictured above is the file we have on Arthur Carhart, who graduated from Iowa State in 1916.

 

 


Giving Thanks for the Life and Legacy of Dr. George Jackson

Earlier this month, I had the honor of attending Dr. George Jackson’s Iowa State University memorial service. For those who haven’t had the opportunity to know, work, or benefit from his labor, Dr. Jackson was the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs at ISU, and his devotion to student success was total. He had the gift of service, and he created a sense of community and support among students of color like I have never known. As a graduate student living in Ames, Iowa, thirteen hours away from home, I always felt a sense of community, and much of that can be attributed to Dr. Jackson’s relentless work on behalf of students, the black community, and the greater Ames community. Many other ISU grads can attest to Dr. Jackson’s extraordinary commitment to students and did during his memorial service.

Cover of Memorial Service Program for Dr. George Jackson. 12 November 2016.

Cover of Memorial Service Program for Dr. George Jackson. 12 November 2016.

Memorial Service Program of Dr. George Jackson. 12 November 2016

Memorial Service Program of Dr. George Jackson. 12 November 2016

There are many actions he took, programs he started, and roles he played that one could cite as evidence of Dr. Jackson’s legacy. For this blog post, I will focus on one item that exemplifies his commitment and passion for student success: an Iowa State Daily article that he wrote during fall semester 1992. In the article, entitled “An Open Letter to ISU’s Minority Freshman,” Dr. Jackson congratulates, encourages as well as directs the new freshman on how to be a successful student at Iowa State.  Although he wrote the article 24 years ago, the main points still resonate today. The first point is “College will offer many new challenges” that may make freshmen question why they are at Iowa State. The second point is that freshmen should do a self-assessment and then use all of the ISU resources available to succeed when those feelings of doubt surface. He writes, “NO ONE SUCCEEDS TOTALLY ON THEIR OWN” and shares that they are part of a lineage of ISU alumni of color who have positively impacted the world and achieved great things. He ends his article confirming to this freshman class that they are intelligent and talented and with hard work and support, they will succeed and reach their ultimate goal: an ISU degree.

Jackson, George. "An Open Letter to Minority Freshman." Iowa State Daily. 6 October 1992. (RS 7/1/2)

Jackson, George. “An Open Letter to Minority Freshman.” Iowa State Daily. 6 October 1992. (RS 7/1/2)

We at Special Collections and University Archives are committed to securing the legacy of Dr. Jackson through collecting and making accessible the documentation of programs he started, and the materials that feature his life and legacy.

Dr. George Jackson, ca. 2000. (RS 7/5/A)

Dr. George Jackson, ca. 2000. (RS 7/5/A)

Feel free to leave your comments about Dr. Jackson and his influence on you or ISU students in the comment section of this post.